Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Bottomless Pool


 The Perils of Mirror-Magic


Never get between two mirrors.”


In his 1991 novel Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett warns of the dangers of getting trapped between mirrors.

The danger he writes of is real, especially for witch-kind.

Let me tell you a story.


Stepping out of the hotel-room shower, I catch an unexpected glimpse of myself from behind in the mirror on the wall in front of me, vertiginously reflecting back from the mirror on the bathroom door behind me. It's disorienting, seeing your own back, right there in front of you: an out-of-body experience, almost.

Like many gay guys, I'm probably over-engaged with graceful aging. As always, the territory manages to look simultaneously familiar, and alluringly mysterious.

Damn, boy,” I think approvingly, “Looking pretty good.”


As it happens, I'm prepping for an event later this summer at which I need to look my lean and rangy best, so it's reassuring to know that the regimen is paying off.

A day or two later, back at home, I find myself—uncharacteristically—checking out the rear view again with the aid of a hand mirror.

Next day, I'm at it again. Now, I've got as much gay narcissism as the next guy (f*ck you, Sigmund Freud), but—as the saying goes—third time makes the charm.

“No,” I think firmly, and lay down the mirror.

Forewarned is forearmed. Thank you, Terry Pratchett.


Our own hinder regions being something that we don't much see, they readily become for us a liminal territory: us/not-us; familiar/mysterious.

The Self as Other: one of the Horned's deeper mysteries.


Mirror in mirror in mirror is dizzy-making anyway. You can travel that way, past or future, as far as you like. That's the power of the mirror.

Therein lies the danger. In the end, that mirror of infinity can drain away your power, can dissipate your soul. As for beautiful, doomed Narcissus, your own reflection can become a trap.

In the lucid waters of that crystal pool, you can diffuse away into nothingness.


To get yourself trapped between mirrors is ultimately to get trapped in your own head, to trade outer for inner, in an ever-diminishing spiral, like water down a drain.

Witch-folk, heed the Sage of Discworld's warning.

Mirror in mirror is a bottomless pool. Don't let yourself fall in.













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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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